NASHVILLE, Tenn. — This week, community college leaders were treated to the best in instructional technology by day and the best in country music by night at the Conference on Information Technology in Nashville. Hosted by the League for Innovation in the Community College, the 23rd annual CIT conference had 2,300 attendees from around the world, and League president and CEO Gerardo E. de los Santos says he was “extremely pleased” with the turnout at the conference, which wrapped up Wednesday.
The League has forged a relationship with educators from the Netherlands in recent years, and now the Netherlands has its own equivalent of the League, de los Santos says. “We have approximately 80 attendees that are from the Netherlands that have joined us, so we’re delighted about that, and that just shows the international reach of this work and of this conference,” he adds.
Sessions at this year’s CIT focused on a wide range of instructional technology tips and tools, titles included “Podcasting: Production and Distribution of Classroom Content,” “Using Technology to Motivate Distance Learning Students” and “Getting the Faculty to Web 2.0 and 3.0.”
This year’s CIT also featured some informative keynote presentations, including Dr. Christopher Dede from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and Dr. Randal Pinkett, founder of consulting firm BCT Partners and winner of season four of the hit reality TV show “The Apprentice.”
Dede’s presentation focused on making learning more effective by making it fun. He emphasized that if students are engaged with learning activities that are able to tap their imagination, the potential for true engagement is magnified. He spoke about an exercise that he and other Harvard faculty developed to boost math learning among high school students.
Titled “Alien Invasion,” the exercise involved staging a mock alien invasion of a high school. Students were given GPS-enabled Pocket PCs, and they were tasked with discovering who the alien invaders were and what were their intentions via a complex set of mathematics equations they had to decipher at various points on a map. The math exercises got rave reviews from the students who said the injection of fun actually helped them learn better than standard lectures.
“No matter what we’re teaching, we need frosting” to help it go down easier, Dede says, adding that “technology is like clothes — it has to be tailored to fit your needs.”
The next League event is the Innovations conference in Denver from March 5-8. De los Santos says community college resources at that conference will be plentiful, as “we’ve had about 150 more proposals that were submitted than slots available, so that just goes to show how interactive that venue is. The response has been great.”
Sure to be addressed at the Innovations conference is the issue of the evolving funding model of community colleges. Now that state and local resources directed towards community colleges are on the decline for the most part, de los Santos says the onus is on community colleges to tap private dollars via fundraising, emulating the fundraising successes of many four-year schools.
“Community colleges are already seeing more students that are projected to come through the open door over the years to come. Our diversity is increasing as we see these projected enrollments increase. At the same time, we see that allocations from the federal and state level, for the most part, are decreasing,” de los Santos says.
He adds that private fundraising and advancement is now becoming more of the responsibility of the community college CEO, and “it’s also about alumni development for community colleges. It’s also about working with the legislators and continuing to create awareness about the metrics that community colleges are being funded on in state funding formulas to ensure that community colleges are being accountable with the proper metrics.”
The League for Innovation in the Community College hosts conferences and institutes, develops Web resources, conducts research and provides a host of other resources dedicated to advancing community colleges. For more information about the League and the number of community college resources it provides, visit the League at www.league.org.
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